First impressions aren’t Hanoi’s strongest suit. The haze of pollution stings the lungs, the humidity wears you out, and if you’re not accustomed to near-lawless motorbike traffic, you may be a bit tentative just crossing the street... The food? Well, it’s nothing like the Vietnamese food you’ve tasted in North America.
There is, however, one overarching quality that makes Hanoi a dynamic, entertaining, and generally fascinating place to visit: it’s raw.